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Flea Market coming back
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The Ceres Flea Market is returning after a three-year hiatus,

Diego Castillo of CFMG Investment LLC of Modesto won approval of the Ceres Planning Commission on Monday for a set on conditions that paves the return for the weekend open-air market at the defunct Ceres Drive-In property on Whitmore Avenue west of Highway 99.

The flea market will also include a farmer's market organized through the Ceres Partnership for Healthy Children. The market was formerly held in Whitmore Park but later abandoned because the location failed to draw enough business to satisfy vendors.

"I like what's being done here," said Commissioner Bob Kachel. "A lot of thought went into it and it can only be a good thing."

Commissioner Laurie Smith said she is also happy to see the flea market's return incorporate the farmer's market.

Chairperson Hugo Molina also supported the conditional use permit. Commissioners Gary Del Nero and Dave Chapman were absent.

The new owners of the 25-acre property has cleaned up the property and demolished the fire-damaged theater snack bar. Plans are to build two new restroom facilities and a 1,824-square-foot concession stand/snack bar facility.

The flea market is proposed to draw as many as 500 vendors, operating year round on Fridays between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Live music will be scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends with a beer and wine garden operating on Sundays only.

Vendors will be charged one dollar per day and there will be no charge for admission.

Car shows and an area featuring dealer cars will be offered.

Operators of the flea market will hire three to six private security personnel and will have to pay for any costs of security provided by Ceres Police.

"Public safety is our number one priority," said Castillo.

The flea market was not without trouble for Ceres police at its zenith in 2004. The market, began experiencing gang and crime issues and Ceres Police Department responded with an aggressive crackdown. That drove many vendors and customers to the El Rematito flea market on Crows Landing Road.